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Toronto FC not looking for sweeping changes this winter

  • March 29, 2019
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Following a historic run in 2017, missing the playoffs in 2018 will not be a cause for panic for the Canadian outfit

The 2018 season was clearly a disappointment for Toronto FC. 

Coming off a year that saw the club claim the MLS Cup title and a record points total, the Canadian outfit failed to find its footing and missed out on the MLS postseason. 

After a terrible start to league play, brought about in large part by a deep run in the Concacaf Champions League, the club was stung by injuries and failed to ever hit top form through the summer months and into the fall. 

One of the main issues for the club was a lack of depth in key areas with players like Gregory van der Wiel, Ager Aketxe and Lucas Janson, who were brought in for the 2018 campaign, not panning out as hoped. 

Despite the failure to make a strong defense of the club’s crown, general manager Tim Bezbatchenko doesn’t see the need for the club to make sweeping changes heading into the 2019 campaign. 

“I don’t think a massive overhaul needs to take place,” said Bezbatchenko in an end-of-season press conference. “This team isn’t done, this roster isn’t done. There is a drive, a collective mentality from this group. They want to go out and compete.”

Toronto will have some decisions to make. The club’s high-priced trio of Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore all have just one year left on their current contracts and Altidore is coming off of an injury-plagued season that saw him make just 12 starts. 

All three players also rank among the top 10 highest earners in the league. 

“It will be a priority to sit down with everyone and their representative to talk: something we do every offseason,” said Bezbatchenko. “They’ve helped build what we’ve built. It’s important we have a conversation, [discuss] their expectations for next year and beyond.”

Altidore has voiced uncertainty over his future in recent weeks and Bezbatchenko understands that TFC, while not needing to make the big moves of the past, will still have changes on hand this winter, with the club looking to do well in the long term rather than just a short-lived return to form in 2019. 

“We’re planning for next year, but we’re not forgetting about 2020, 2021,” said Bezbatchenko. “At some point we will have to make a shift; get younger.”

TFC will be back in the Concacaf Champions League next year and will have to cope with multiple competitions once again, so, while the “massive overhaul” may not be needed, don’t expect the Canadian champion to rest easy this offseason. 

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